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Tuesday

A Winter Olympics Guitar Story


Maybe the Winter Olympics is the reason traffic, clicks and stats have really down-trended this week at Stratoblogster.

So in the spirit of things, today I'm gonna share some little known stuff with whomever may be reading this, about an important role guitar has played in these Winter Olympics we are so enjoying right now.

Very few people know this or speak about it. I guess you could say it's sorta fallen through the cracks of history making insignificance...

The Tele/Esquire guitar platform was first utilized in the original luge sled prototypes. They were rugged, fast and not too comfortable, but the comfort factor hasn't really improved to this day.

It was aptly named the "SnoCaster", although the name was very short lived as it also so happened that a Milwaukee, Wisconsin based manufacturer of snow removal equipment already owned the SnoCaster name. Hence, Fender was forced to drop the moniker and shortly thereafter discontinued marketing guitar/luge sled models altogether. Their involvement with winter sports gear products was extremely brief. Almost as if it never actually occurred.

Gibson's hasty attempt at a quickie Les Paul luge modification quickly met with fateful demise amidst snapped headstocks and excessive weight issues. They were dangerous, unpredictable-- and many luge runners just didn't find them visually appealing. Some of those Les Pauls however were picked up by the ice curling community. Literally picked up with the simple modification of a handle affixed to the top, between the pickups. Though in no way did they become prevalent ice curling gear, a small number of those Les Pauls are said to still be in service today in remote regions of Northern Saskatchewan where they are employed as training gear for young, aspiring Canadian ice curlers.

There is even some debate, in very exclusive circles, that today's price pointing on Gibson Les Paul models derives in part from those early Canadian Government subsidies which completely financed the imported training aids from Kalamazoo. Yes, many a Canadian youngster of that early 50's generation, cut their ice curling teeth on heavy Gibson mahogany.

Today, guitars no longer play the significant role in Winter Olympic events that they once did. But they were there at the beginning to help the luge to become the fastest and arguably most dangerous winter sports event. All that remains of that bygone era is Fender's ever popular Olympic White finish.

Like I said, most people don't know about this stuff, but I thought it fitting and appropriate to share as we contemplate the excitement, history, celebrations and pageantry of this 2010 Winter Olympics.

Thank you for reading-- wherever you are!



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